This might sound fishy but …
I love word play and I have a mind that tends to trap trivia, so I’ve collected snippets of interesting word combos and mispronunciations along the way. I thought that pulling out the ones related to food would be a piece of cake, and I even expected that I would be able to cherry pick the best of the bunch.
Alas I found myself in a pickle when my memory would not cooperate as selectively as I had hoped. I tried to butter it up, I threatened it with a knuckle sandwich, but in the end this is all I could manage to cook up.
Toddlers are always a good source of adorable word accidents. What parent hasn’t been asked for pasghetti noodles or cimmanon toast? Your young one might adore the sweepy toes (sweet potatoes) but hate the spigalous (asparagus).
Then kids graduate to a higher level of punniness, mostly silly and non-sensical. Hilarity ensues.
“What did the salad say to the dressing?”
“Lettuce be friends!”
“Why shouldn’t you tell a secret on a farm?”
“Because the potatoes have eyes and the corn has ears.”
“Why did the apple go out with the prune?”
“Because he couldn’t find a date.”
“What is black and white and green and bumpy?”
“A pickle wearing a tuxedo.”
And of course there are the knock-knock jokes.
“Knock, knock!” – “Who’s there?” – “Banana.” – “Banana who?” – “Ba-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na… [to the tune of an old vaudeville act]. Repeat three times.
By now you as a parent are getting a little exasperated, but you’re game to go one more round.
“Knock, knock!” – “Who’s there?” – “Orange” – “Orange who?” – “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” Hysterical stuff.
Next we move on to idiomatic phrases, which must stymie every newcomer who has to learn English. Why does a bread winner bring home the bacon? Why shouldn’t you put all your eggs in one basket? Why might a bad smell mean someone has cut the cheese?
You might egg someone on, get in a beef with them, or walk on eggshells around them. Your sweetheart is the apple of your eye. If a bean counter is a bad egg, he might cook the books. Politicians might talk about bread and butter issues.
Even a big cheese might end up with egg on his face or eating humble pie, but he’ll still act cool as a cucumber. After all, there’s no use crying over spilt milk — he has bigger fish to fry.
Your sister-in-law has a bun in the oven. You only know because your brother spilled the beans. Your brother is a bit of a couch potato, so you think, “That’s a fine kettle of fish!” But they say cream rises to the top, so maybe he can cut the mustard. Just don’t say anything, because they might think you have sour grapes.
So there you have it. My trivial memory well has run dry. It may not be your cup of tea, and some might be a little too corny or cheesy for your taste. But if you find word play as delicious as I do, maybe this will prompt you to send me some of your favourites. Piece of cake, you say? Well, maybe … but the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Kym Wolfe is a London-based writer who would love to hear your favourite foodie word play. firstname.lastname@example.org